Apostrophes Exercise (471)

In each of the sentences below, determine whether the missing word(s) requires an apostrophe and, if so, where it belongs.

  • I learned the __________ of the job fairly quickly.

  • She gave the traditional two __________ notice.

  • The __________ starting first baseman is out with an injury.

  • _____ and Mary’s jobs are similar.

  • The _______ migration path is directly over our neighborhood.

Answers and Explanations

1. I learned the ins and outs of the job fairly quickly.

"Ins" and "outs," part of an idiomatic phrase meaning "details," are plurals. (The sentence refers to learning more than one in and more than one out.)

2. She gave the traditional two weeks’ notice.

The two weeks "belong" to the notice, so "weeks" takes the plural possessive form.

3. The San Francisco Giants starting first baseman is out with an injury.

When "for" rather than "of" can be used to express a relation between one noun and another in such a phrase, the first noun is considered an adjective, rather than as an entity that possesses the entity represented by the second noun.

4. John’s and Mary’s jobs are similar.

The plural form of "jobs" indicates that each person has a distinct job, so both names should be in the possessive form. (However, "John and Mary’s business is thriving" is correct because John and Mary own the business together.)

5. The geese’s migration path is directly over our neighborhood.

Take care not to convert a word that is already an irregularly formed plural into a plural possessive.

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